If you rely on public transit in Toronto, you know we’re approaching crisis mode as our existing mired transit framework becomes its own form of gridlock. This is why we’re applauding the ‘it-can’t-be-soon-enough’ arrival of the Eglinton Crosstown – a light rail transit line that will run along Eglinton Avenue between Mount Dennis (Weston Road) and Kennedy station. Extending about 19 kilometres (including portions which are underground between Keele Street and Laird Drive) this engineering marvel will have 25 stations and/or stops that link to 54 bus routes and numerous GO Transit lines.
This is a joint venture between the Ontario government and a consortium of well-known companies SNC Lavalin, EllisDon, AECON, and ACS Infrastructure Canada. The agreement states that through this partnership, in addition to the 25 stops, they will build track work, signalling, communications and other necessary infrastructure.
It’s true that the once-exciting project has been losing fans as construction drags on – in part for the disruption that’s impacted Eglinton Avenue – one of the city’s main east-west arteries. However, the creation of the Eglinton Crosstown has been fairly true to both its projected timeline and cost. Once it is completed, Torontonians will be able to navigate our city with greater efficiency and ease!
The mammoth project – that began way back in 2011 – is slated to be done this year – 2022. Originally, they had set a 2021 completion date, but a number of delays, enhanced by the pandemic, have pushed the finish date back further.
But bit, by bit, the Crosstown is getting built- most recently with the Brentcliffe Portal section. This is a crucial completion to ready for the next phase- of when six light-rail vehicles will start testing on the eastern portion of the tracks this spring, followed by more widespread testing this summer.
Here’s a computer-generated peek at what the completed project is imagined to look like:
Why Is LRT Better?
The Crosstown will provide fast, reliable, and convenient transit by carrying passengers in dedicated right-of-way transit lanes separate from regular traffic. While slower than subways, LRT vehicles can carry more passengers than other types of above-ground transit. The capacity is pretty impressive. The vehicles can carry 15,000 passengers per hour per direction, but projections place ridership at about 5,500 passengers per hour per direction by 2031. So they are evidently building to allow for significant growth! And these numbers are based on “ideal scenarios”, which often differ from the reality of day-to-day transit performance.
Secondly, LRT is faster than streetcars or buses; light rail vehicles can travel as fast as 80km/hr, though actual speed is governed by the distance between as well as the flow of surrounding traffic.
This smart infographic offers a bit more:
Economic and Environmental Benefits
This project has very positive implications for the economy and employment rates. Throughout the construction phases through to completion and beyond, Metrolinx will partner with local companies and community groups to provide jobs, training, and other opportunities. Groups like the Toronto Community Benefits Network (TCBN), is connecting people with jobs in the trades and administration along the Crosstown line.
There are many benefits to the Crosstown in regards to the quality of life of Torontonians and the environment. Obviously, faster transit means less time spent commuting; not only is the Crosstown supposed to cut travel times, but it’s also supposed to improve the reliability of existing TTC lines and consequently their travel times as well. And while the project couldn’t be called “green”, it will reduce traffic congestion, greenhouse gases, and fuel consumption – that’s pretty eco-friendly, right? In fact, it is the first transit project to receive funding through ‘green bonds’ which are tax-exempt bonds reserved for environmentally-friendly infrastructure.
Originally city planners proposed that grass, sedum, and other plants be introduced along portions of the track, as they have been in other cities like Paris and Hamburg. Green trackways are both pleasant to look at and useful: they reduce noise and help offset the “heat island effect.” Unfortunately, it turned out to be 22 percent more expensive than options like gravel. Boo!
Regardless, Crosstown will allow thousands of commuters to take a convenient, low-emissions transit option every day. If it functions as it should, it will not only help preserve the state of the environment but will improve the quality of life for daily commuters.
Speaking of commuters, if you travel the area frequently, it may be prudent to get periodic construction updates!
The Eglinton Crossover And Real Estate
So: the big question. Once complete, what impact will the new LRT route have on real estate in the city?
Major public transit infrastructure is the basis for urban growth, which is what we will experience along Eglinton where use intensification will accommodate Toronto’s ever-growing population, with a transit line ready to serve. This project will extend the Midtown hub of Yonge and Eglinton further east and west – potentially turning it into a second Bloor Street. Which we desperately need. After all, if you live in downtown Toronto, there are certain amenities considered the staple of the urban dweller, and convenient access to public transportation is usually found at the top of that list.
Right now, neighbourhoods like The Danforth, Bloorcourt Village and High Park, etc. are highly coveted – and suffering from high-price syndrome – because they are within walking distance of the Bloor-Danforth subway line, which is one of our two subway lines. Once the Crosstown is completed, it’s going to make any property within walking distance (both north and south) of Eglinton extremely attractive and more valuable. More importantly, this new transit artery invites the opportunity to intensify our urban fabric, so anticipate the rezoning of existing low-density sites on Eglinton into high-density commercial residential condominiums and rental buildings. In a city suffering from its insufficient supply of housing, having a transit infrastructure in place will spurn redevelopment.
The biggest changes will occur in the demographic make-up and infrastructure of outlying city neighbourhoods. Take, for example, the Eglinton and Keele neighbourhood of ‘Keelesdale’. This area has many of the prerequisite amenities to be considered a thriving family-friendly community, but because of its distance from the core and troublesome commute on public transit, it’s long been considered a ‘launch pad’ neighbourhood by residents. According to census data, the community experiences a 50% population turnover every 5 years, as residents migrate to more convenient locations. However, when the Crosstown trains start running – able to speed residents from these outlying neighbourhoods into the city centre in under 10 minutes – pundits predict extensive gentrification and a demographic shift within the decade. Keelesdale and neighbourhoods like Mt. Dennis can leave the ‘launch pad’ reputation behind. These areas will emerge into their own amenity-laden urban villages.
For anyone with a long-term view, buying in locations that are undergoing transit redevelopment can reap financial rewards. Herein lies the window of opportunity. If you can secure a dwelling in any of the fringe Eglinton-adjacent neighbourhoods before it hits the collective consciousness, you’ll not only see your investment escalate in value faster than suburban locations, but you’ll see your transit commute time reduced significantly in the next three years.
So, look closely at the Eglinton Crossover stops below, and their adjacent communities, because these will inevitably become coveted once the LRT line becomes established!
Disclaimer: when I mention this is a long-term hold, I mean the financial gains will take around ten years to accrue – and possibly longer depending on how far east or west you’re located from Yonge Street. After all, the process of revitalization takes decades, so an emerging neighbourhood can be in a state of flux for a while. You only have to look at Leslieville, West Queen West, and The Junction to see Toronto neighbourhoods that have been transitioning for 20 to 30 years. But for those who are willing to wait, you are making a calculated risk that will bear financial reward. And how exciting to ride the wave at the cusp of change!
The pace of a neighbourhood’s revitalization has been a topic of fascination by Canadian urban academics for the past sixty years. I know this from my own contribution to the research in the late 80s when I wrote an Urban Studies Thesis funded by The Ministry Of Municipal Affairs called “Gentrification: Yuppie Porn In South Riverdale”. The thesis, which included a comprehensive review of past research exploring the movement of middle-class households into this working-class neighbourhood, also explored my early fascination with housing as a symbol of self. Here’s a brief synopsis of my research – along with my own tale of buying my first house on DeGrassi Street in South Riverdale in 1986 for $87,000 and subsequently selling it three weeks later (plus a photo of yours truly in my bloom of youth) – in A Nose For Leslieville.
In the meantime, given it’s still under construction, the Crossover really means only one thing to Torontonians: congestion and traffic. Construction sites are impeding the flow of transportation and threatening the safety of those – drivers and pedestrians alike – who are trying to navigate them. Helpfully, you can find instructions on doing so – for various intersections – on this Metrolinx website.
So how was your commute today? For most of us, commuting is a daily fact. Yet the financial and emotional implications of commuting are rarely considered in the forefront in the decision to buy a dwelling. Sometimes we are lured by the prospect of cheaper property – or more property for the same price point. In addition to the mental and emotional toll of this daily grind, it prompts the query about the actual financial cost? This begged the question – what is the true cost of commuting? Want to know? Here’s my post called What Are The Real Financial, Emotional And Health Costs Of Commuting?
Here’s a bit about Oakwood Station – just one of the many stations being constructed:
“The brand new Oakwood Station, located on the western half of the 25-station LRT at Oakwood and Eglinton, has been built in an unusual cylindrical shape that makes the entire station look like a tunnel.
According to a recent Metrolinx blog post, the cylindrical shape is ‘a remnant of the mining excavation method used to dig out the cavern sideways under Eglinton Avenue.’
‘It has a different feel than some underground transit stations you may have visited,’ the blog post reads.
The exterior of the main entrance to the Oakwood Crosstown station is set to have a bright, modern-looking facade that sits between retail spaces on the north side of the Eglinton-Oakwood intersection.” – DailyHive
Check out our 2bed bungalow listing on Clovelly near Eglinton!! An Opportunity To Transform A Vintage Bungalow, located just steps the Crosstown LRT’s new Oakwood Station!
The new owners of ‘Easy, Breezy Living On Wynford Heights Crescent In Reputable Wynford Place‘, – NOW SOLD – are already enjoying easy access to the Crosstown!
Questions? Want to book a private viewing? Contact James Ormston at firstname.lastname@example.org!
*Title Image courtesy of The City of Toronto & Metrolinx
Thank you for reading!
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